Spring 2020 – First Impressions – Part II

Sing Yesterday for me - Rikou
And the premieres just keep rolling!  Presenting the second batch, and an early (and maybe only) contender for AOTS.  Hit the jump and see if you agree!

The shows that I am watching are in bold, shows my wife and I are watching together are in bold italicsstrikethrough marks dropped shows and (*) marks shows that are watched but not regularly reviewed.

Arte

It’s hard to judge Arte on it’s own merits when quite by happenstance I’m in the middle of rewatching Shirayuki-hime.  Both feature strong women trying to escape the strictures of their social classes…  Both cut their hair in the first episode to symbolize their rejection of convention.  (TV Tropes covers this under Important Haircut.)  They even use almost the same verbiage to describe their aspirations.  There’s a significant difference in their aspirations though…  Arte seeks to stand independent of any man.  Shirayuki seeks to stand independently and equally beside her man.

Arte - regrets
There are differences though.  Arte doesn’t luck almost immediately into encountering a strong and supportive patron.  She has to exert herself and settle for the first person to not reject her outright.  Leo first attempts to reject her, but once he gets over that he doesn’t seem inclined to treat her any different than any other apprentice.  He might be a love interest in the future, but for the moment they’re simply Master and apprentice.

In the same vein, being an herbalist was a means to an end for Shirayuki…  But Arte seems more dedicated to art as a standalone goal in and of itself.

Status: Moderate keeper.  Probably only so long as it doesn’t become actively annoying.

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! (Otome Game no Hametsu Flag Shika Nai Akuyaku Reijou ni Tensei Shiteshimatta…)

Otome Game turned out to be unexpectedly charming…  Based on a game within a light novel, my expectations were low and I didn’t expect to enjoy it nearly so much.

My Next Life as a Villainess - Katarina
Much of that comes from Katarina being played straight as a determined character trying to avoid her predestined death…  They’re also already showing us that Fate isn’t so easily deflected.  She mucks up and then has to try and fix her own mistakes on top of undoing whatever wrong was “written in the stars”.  With only a handful of routes, they’re going to have to work hard to fill out the allotted episodes without getting boring or repetitious.

It’s not all kittens and puppies though, a couple of things do bother me.  First is the “interior meeting” gag…  That can be easily overused, and it’s verging on it already.  Most of that comes from the fast pacing and I’m having a hard time remembering which voice is which archetype.

The second is I’m having a hard time buying Katarina’s conversion.  No, not from spoiled princess (which most everyone in her new life is ignoring anyhow).  Rather, from socially isolated otaku to outgoing angel.  Hopefully they’ll address that as the opportunity for reflection and character growth is massive.

Status: Moderate keeper.

Nami yo Kiite Kure (Wave, Listen to Me!)

Update from First Impressions – Part I:  My wife watched it, and pronounced it to be “like riding a roller coaster”.  She enjoyed it, and Wave has been promoted from a “me” show to a “we” show.

Shachou, Battle no Jikan desu! (Shachibato! President, It’s Time for Battle!)

In other words, Shachibato is an anime based on a mobile game that basically consists of watching what I imagine are the game’s first cutscene, its tutorial, and the introductory mission all play out as straightforwardly as possible.

James Beckett – ANN

James said it so much better than I ever could.  Like most of us I’ve seen a ton of game based anime, but even so Shachibato! stands out due to it’s sheer lack of ambition.  Right after the show ended I was looking up VA’s, and I could only remember the characters by their hair color and style.  MC-kun was kinda memorable (mostly by lack of time passing), but the side characters were just immediately forgettable.

When the show was over, I was thinking I might give it an episode or two more…  But by the cold light of the next day’s dawn I don’t think so.  While’s there’s nothing outright offensive or bothersome, there’s also nothing attractive, memorable, or notable.

Status:  Huh?  I actually watched this?  I forgot.  Now that I remember – dropped.

Sing “Yesterday” for Me (Yesterday wo Utatte)

Ever had a show that just blew you away in the first episode?  For me – Yesterday was just such a show.  It’s hard to explain why, but I’m going to take a stab anyhow…


For starters, it’s clearly an adult drama.  And the adults…  well, they’re actually adults rather than college student and they’re facing adult problems.  Rikou is already world weary despite being relatively young, and feels like less of himself because he’s living a very floating and directionless life.  He doesn’t have anything he wants to do, and feels no particular urge to seek one out.  By contrast, Shinako seems to have it all together, and despite the hints that she (at least in the past) carried a torch for Rikou…  I suspect there’s something else that’s brought her back “home”.  (To the haunts of their student days, which Rikou has never left.)

Haru is the problematic character, so far seemingly air dropped into the story to kick Rikou in his metaphorical butt and get the story rolling.  There’s really no connection between her and others beyond random chance.

Another thing that wowed me was the quality of the animation…  Imagine if Just Because and Welcome to the NHK! had a love child and then sent that child to prep school.  Yesterday is that child.  There’s a ton of story told in the backgrounds and settings, and most importantly in the subtle expressive of the characters and their body language.

Lastly, there’s the writing…  Very dense, but in a good way.  Alongside the animation, it’s very firmly in the “show, don’t tell” mode.  Of course, it’s all but impossible to avoid some exposition, but it’s deftly handled in the narrative rather than set apart from actual story.

Yeah, dense character driven drama…  smack in my wheelhouse.  I’m in love.

Bless also wrote up Episode 1, and you should definitely check it out.

Status:  Best premiere of the season, pretty much the only AOTS candidate.  Why do you ask?

=========

That wraps up the premiers to date.  With the exception of Fruits Basket, I’m caught up will all that I intend to watch through Mon (PST USA), so anything else that’s aired is fair game.

There’s three shows left on my radar (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Climax, Appare-Ranman!, and Diary of our Days at the Breakwater) that will premiere this week… I don’t know yet if they’ll go into a premiere post of their own or be rolled into a regular post next week.  I don’t know which day the regular post will appear on as I haven’t really worked out my schedule yet…  But one way or another, regular posting will return with Week 2 coverage sometime next week.

What do you think of these shows?  What do you think I’m missing out on among other shows?  Drop a comment and let’s chat!

6 thoughts on “Spring 2020 – First Impressions – Part II”

  1. Sing Yesterday for Me is awesome. I like the style, the body language, the story. Just Because X Welcome to the NHK is an interesting way to put it, and actually makes a lot of sense. I wouldn’t be surprised if this ended up anime of the season.

    I also quite liked Villainess. I’m not bothered by the interior conferences, though I’m not as fond of those scenes as some reviews I’ve read. Do we actually know “Caterina’s” personality before her death? I can’t remember anything other than her being an otaku.

    Incidently, the first episode of Jasshin chan Dropkick, also used the interior diaglogue trope, with rather unusual personalities (such as as buddha Jasshin, who holds the planet in her hands and thus always shakes the room when she falls asleep). In the end, they just bicker amongst each other, discuss nothing, and decide that since they’re all aspects of Origin, Origin should just decide, which is when we learn that the decision was about what to have for dinner. I quite liked that scene, but didn’t really feel much of fondness for the series’ first season. We’ll see if I get back into it or not.

    Arte was decently fun. I definitely like it better so far than Shirayuki hime, which I didn’t end up liking all that much. That said, I’m not so sure about this show either; it’s overdoing the conflict a little. In a better show, she’d not have finished the impossible task, but finished quite a lot anyway, and have the show take it from there. I’m okay with it, but it’s not my style of show, and it doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary. We’ll see.

    The president show is every bit as unimpressive as you say, and that’s enough words on that. (I might still watch it, depending on what else airs on its slot.)

    I was surprised to find that I actually liked Princess Connect. I didn’t check, but it looks like a gaccha game adaption, but its humour is in line with the better shows of its kind, like, say, Last Period. It’s nothing special, but I had fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. re: Yesterday

      That’s my feeling too… If they can keep it up, hands down AOTS.

      re: Villainess

      I may be assuming too much about her former (IRL) personality, but it’s definitely the vibe I got. But they may break with that trope, with wouldn’t be out of line with the show overall.

      The interior conferences didn’t bother me per se, they’re just a hair overused. (If that makes sense.) They’re certainly a useful narrative device, but they can be overused.

      Yes, Princess Connect it a game adaptation, there’s a ton of those this season. I think Shironeko Project is the only one I’m planning on checking out based on the various reviews I’ve seen.

      Like

  2. Sing Yesterday For Me’s first episode has set the bar high. I have high expectations for it since the first episode was just amazing. So much happened but it didn’t feel crammed at all and the characters are all interesting with their own set of problems which make them feel real. It’s made for an interesting first episode. Now I just hope the rest of the story is just as good.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well so much for my optimism about having a full season’s worth of shows to watch. SNAFU’s production is officially delayed, and I’m still waiting for word on Kaguya, but Funimation took literally everything else I was interested in watching except Fruits Basket, even the ones I was 50/50 on. I am interested in Sing Yesterday now after reading the initial reviews (yours and ANN’s), so I’ll probably check that out, but nothing else in CR’s lineup even remotely interests me.

    I did just finish rewatching season 1 of Food Wars – burned through all 24 episodes in only 4 viewing sessions. Nice to know I can still enjoy those early episodes just as much, even though I lost interest in the series as a whole partway through season 3.

    Also bought and read volumes 12 and 13 of Silver Spoon. Still just as good as ever (Hachiken & co. are third year by now), and still a crime that we’re never going to get season 3.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve seen quite a few people critical of the Crunchy/Funi balance this season… It sucks for the viewer, granted, but some folks are trying to read the tea leaves and discern why and what it means. (Popular theory – they spent too much on more lackluster Crunchyroll Originals.)

      Do check out Yesterday.

      SNAFU’s cancellation was disappointing for us too… We’d pushed to finish the 2nd season the night before and were really excited for the premiere. But such a late cancellation raises a lot of questions, “it’s the virus” just seems too convenient. We’ve seen too many mid-season collapses of late for me to take that at face value.

      Hey, we got a third season of Chihayafuru (and Index, and Railgun)… One can always hope!

      Like

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